Technology

Objections to electric Cars diminishing with tech Progress

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A British startup has developed technology that it claims will result in the ability to charge electric vehicles (EV) in six minutes. With continuing technological development in EV technology, are the considerations of electric car buyers any different from that of car buyers generally?

One of the major drawbacks with EVs has been the time taken to charge them. A fledgling company spun out of Cambridge University is now claiming to have a solution to tackle that issue. Echion Technologies claims to have made a breakthrough that could potentially see the time required to charge an EV reduced dramatically.

Right now, charging an EV is likely to take 45 minutes at a minimum. The project has its roots in nanoscience-based research carried out by Dr. Jean De La Verpilliere and his team at Cambridge University. They have come up with a material, which is a replacement for graphite with intrinsic properties which enables such faster charging times.

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There have been a number of projects in the past with similar claims that have failed to materialize when it came to commercialization. Echion may be that breakthrough or it may be that it has similar difficulties.

Alignment of Expectations

Either way, EV technology generally is evolving. EV’s have been with us for quite some time now, yet sales have remained sluggish.

However, a survey carried out by online car marketplace, Autolist, suggests that the concerns of buyers are diminishing, such that they can’t be differentiated much from that of the buyers of conventional cars.

Polling over 1500 car buyers last month, the findings reveal the usual objections to buying EVs. However, the results also reveal that consumers’ expectations are beginning to align with the general expectations of the car buying public across the board.

The three biggest concerns of prospective buyers are price, range and charging infrastructure. Notwithstanding that, the development of battery and EV technology is such that their expectations are being met in terms of range.

When asked as to the minimum acceptable range of a car, buyers indicated 250 to 300 miles. This is within the scope of a number of EVs on the market. The Tesla Model 3 has a range of 325 miles.

Charging Infrastructure

The progress in terms of infrastructure varies from country to country. China has built out the world’s largest EV charging network with a million public and private sector charging points. According to Nissan, the UK has now rolled out more active EV charging stations in the country than there are gas stations.

The US is lagging behind somewhat in this respect with significant investment needed to adequately meet EV charging needs. A report by the International Council on Clean Transport reveals that $1.3 billion will be required to facilitate home charging and $940 million to cover the cost of workplace and public charging stations over the next five years.

In this instance, there is no technological impediment. Therefore, it’s just a matter of time before satisfactory charging infrastructure is in place.

Cost remains the biggest objection according to the Autolist survey. In most markets, this burden is being alleviated somewhat through the application of generous grants and incentives. A slowdown in EV sales in China has been directly attributed to a cut in the level of subsidies offered.

More to do

A lot of progress has been made but the development of the technology is ongoing.  Most countries have now set medium to long term targets to phase out gas fueled cars.

To realize such targets, further technological breakthroughs will be required. In Texas, Linear Labs are working on an electric motor, which it claims will reduce hardware cost without reducing performance whilst also increasing range. Last month, Tesla filed a patent, which details further EV battery performance improvement.

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Globally, there’s a body of EV technology R&D and attempts at commercialization ongoing right now. With a couple of further breakthroughs filtering through into real world application, there will be a much greater expectation that the needle will have well and truly shifted and the buying public will most likely respond accordingly.

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Pat Rabbitte
Pat is a writer from the West of Ireland - currently living and working in Medellín, Colombia. He has always had an inquiring mind when it comes to new technology. His discovery of Bitcoin back in 2013 slowly led to a realisation of the implications of the underlying tech. As a consequence, Pat’s passion for blockchain technology has led him to focus his writing on the subject.